How to Get From Copan to San Salvador

When Adam and I first arrived at our hostel in Copan, we mentioned that we would be travelling onwards from Copan to San Salvador.

“Buy your tickets tonight!” we were ordered by a member of staff.

“How come? Do they sell out?” was our confused response. We had never had a problem buying bus tickets last minute in Honduras.

“The direct buses only go a few times a week, you might not get on it!”

In a flap, we hurriedly debated amongst ourselves. Did we need a direct bus? Could we make our way to El Salvador without it? Did we even want to go directly from Copan to San Salvador?

All our debating ceased when we were told the priced of the direct bus. $40. No chance. We were going it alone.


Mural on wall at La Palma, El Salvador

La Palma- our colourful introduction to El Salvador

The journey was not difficult in the slightest, and the whole thing cost around $16. Here’s how:
Firstly, we took the 8am bus from Copan Ruinas to Santa Rosa do Copan. The journey was three hours long and cost L100 ($4.40).

As soon as we arrived, we were directed to a bus that was just about to leave. It wasn’t heading to the border as we’d hoped, instead it was going to Ocotepeque. This journey took around two and a half hours and cost L90 ($4).

From Ocotepeque, we got on a collectivo headed for the border town of El Poy. We were a little concerned when nobody else showed up, as we’ve had bad experiences in the past where we’ve had to wait hours for the bus to fill with passengers. But we needn’t have worried. After just a few minutes, another collectivo showed up and ours left (clearly there’s some kind of agreement here). The journey was just ten minutes long and cost just L10 ($0.44).

Once we were dropped off, we started walking across the border. This was possibly the easiest border we’ve had in Central America. We got stamped out of Honduras, walked the short distance to the El Salvador side, and entered our next destination. We didn’t even have to queue, as both migration offices were deserted. And there were people on hand to change our remaining lempira to US dollars, the currency used throughout El Salvador.


On the way from Copan to San Salvador

On the way from Copan to San Salvador

By now it was just after three o clock in the afternoon. We were pointed to a nearby bus stand and were told the next bus onwards would arrive at half past.

It arrived on time (which we were a little surprised by) and we headed off towards San Salvador.

The journey to San Salvador costs $3.50 and takes around three and a half hours. But we had decided not to go all the way, and instead stop for a night in the pretty town of La Palma. The journey here was just twenty minutes long and cost $0.60.

There isn’t much to do in La Palma, except wander around admiring the street art. But this in itself is a good reason to stop here, as the entire town is painted in boldly coloured murals. The trend was started by Fernando Llort, a resident of the town, and continued on by La Palma’s residents until the whole town was awash with street art.

A decorated street in La Palma

A decorated street in La Palma

Summary: How to Get From Copan to San Salvador

So, to sum up, yes, it is very possible to travel from Copan to San Salvador in one day, without paying for a direct shuttle. Here’s a summary of the journey:

1. Copan Ruinas to Santa Rosa do Copan: bus, 3 hrs, L100/ $4.40
2. Santa Rosa do Copan to Ocotepeque: bus, 2.5 hrs, L90/ $4
3. Ocotepeque to El Poy: collectivo, 10 mins, L10/ $0.44
4. Cross the border on foot
5. Border to San Salvador: bus, 3.5 hrs, $3.50 (or like us, you can get off in La Palma after 20 mins)


Woman sitting on street art steps in La Palma, El Salvador

On the steps at La Palma


Looking for things to do in El Salvador? Stay tuned for posts on coffee tours and the unmissable weekly Juayua food festival.


For information on visiting the Copan ruins, click here. While in Copan, check out Macaw Mountain, a bird sanctuary where you can get up close with a range of feathered friends.

4 comments on “How to Get From Copan to San Salvador”

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  3. Aimee Jones says:

    Thanks for this post! Super helpful for my planning!

  4. Hey thanks for the brilliant blog… Im in copan ruinas right now and wondering where to collect the bus from copan ruinas to santa rosa? I hope to leave on the early bus tomorrow morning (Saturday)

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